The car was packed and I was saying my weekly goodbye at 3pm, like so many times before. Too many times since the divorce filing.
We hugged hard, seemingly too hard for her little ribs, but as I began to let up she squeezed even harder. It was painful, but because the separation was usually just a few days, bearable. She sat back down on the couch.
"I will be back Saturday," I said.
She stared at me for a moment and responded, simply, "Flowers."
I stared back, and the exasperation at having to explain something so obvious washed over her face. "When you come back on Saturday, bring me flowers."
"Okay, I will."
As I pulled out of the driveway I began to cry. I cried half the way to O'hare. My five-year-old daughter had asked me to bring her flowers. No, not asked. Told. With authority and conviction. Almost like she threw a chair then shouted, "Your ass better bring me some motherfucking flowers or there's gonna be a meltdown, like there was in the grocery store that time. You get that, Pop?" It was a bit on the entitled side, slightly rude, and condescending. And the beauty of it was overwhelming.
My trip to the airport was earlier than originally planned. A 10pm flight was changed to a 5pm one, because my girlfriend sent me a text earlier in the day, asking, "Is there any way you can get here sooner?" My response was, "I'm glad you can ask."
It doesn't sound like a lot. But this beautiful lady has spent a lifetime not asking for what she wants. "I can do it myself. I'm better off alone. I don't need you or anybody." It all came from an "I don't deserve" mentality. Most all of us have it to some degree. It holds us back. It destroys relationships and lives because we don't ask for what we need and want, and we grow to resent those in our lives who can give it to us but because they can't read our minds, don't. She was smart enough to recognize it, get help, start asking, and start demanding.
So, on the day that she had a major breakthrough and was able to be brave and vulnerable and full of self-love enough to tell me she wanted me near sooner rather than later, on that very day I heard my little Blue Sky tell the universe she was worthy. She yelled to the heavens that she deserved.
Granted, she is only five. Lots of fears creep in between now and adulthood. Mine started early (I recall being in first grade and thinking that this little cute kindergartener who looked like the country music star Barbara Mandrell would be an awesome playmate - but I was too scared to talk to her). It is inevitable that they come, but my job as a parent is to make sure those fears don't rule her and keep her from being all that she can be.
And I will work to the best of my ability to make sure they don't. I can hear her now, my former preschooler turned 16-year-old, out on the porch with her first, yes first, boyfriend, thinking Dad can't hear.
"Flowers. When you come pick me up on Saturday, you better have me some motherfucking flowers."